- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

ROCKY HILL, Conn. (AP) - Five houses in Rocky Hill that state officials set aside and renovated for Connecticut military veterans have sat mostly empty for several years, while statistics show one in 10 homeless people in the state is a veteran, according to a published report.

The five houses across the street from the Connecticut State Veterans’ Home have 15 bedrooms for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and their families, but only one veteran currently lives in them, WTNH-TV reported (http://bit.ly/1nLkWqe ). The homes housed two veterans last year, four in 2012 and two in 2011, the station reported.

The state Department of Veterans’ Affairs had the homes renovated for $250,000 and opened them in the fall of 2010 to provide temporary housing for veterans who are homeless or at risk of being homeless. The houses, now called Patriots’ Landing, had been vacant for years after being used by Veterans’ Affairs workers decades ago.

Herb Mitchell, a former VA worker, said he is angry the homes aren’t used more.

“I’m frustrated because I know there are women with children and I know that there are veterans throughout the homeless shelters that are at their max that cannot have a decent place to live,” he said.

State Veterans’ Affairs Commissioner Linda Schwartz told the TV station that few veterans stay in the homes because of rules banning drinking and overnight guests. She said the department currently is accepting referrals to the houses.

“For single veterans, it’s just not where it’s at for them,” she said. “The ones that we have had, the families, it has worked out very well.”

Emergency shelters in Connecticut serve more than 14,000 adults and children each year, while hundreds more stay in cars, tents or abandoned buildings, according to the Connecticut Coalition to End Homeless. The group says a 2012 survey showed that one in 10 homeless adults in the state had served in the military, and 330 homeless veterans were identified.

One veteran told WTNH that he was given a tour of the homes but was put on a waiting list.

A Veterans’ Affairs spokesman didn’t immediately return a message Tuesday seeking comment.

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Information from: WTNH-TV, http://www.wtnh.com